Car News:  Oversteer

Was the Jeep Liberty the Worst Redesign Ever?

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2001 Jeep Cherokee Limited
Used 2001 Jeep Cherokee
$6,750
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2001 Jeep Cherokee 4WD Classic 4-Door
Used 2001 Jeep Cherokee
$10,500
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2001 Jeep Cherokee 4WD Limited 4-Door
Used 2001 Jeep Cherokee
$13,950
RELATED READING
See all Jeep Cherokee articles
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon
ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Doug DeMuro December 2016

Most cars are redesigned every few years. A design gets old and stale, and BOOM! The automaker is (usually) right there with another one. Or, in the case of the Volvo XC90, a design gets old and stale, and BOOM! The automaker is right there with another one 6 years later.

Now, most redesigns are excellent and obviously necessary, and they dramatically improve the car in question by modernizing the styling, improving the technology and revising the engine for more power and better gas mileage. Which leads me to my thesis for this article: I think the 2002 redesign in which the Jeep Cherokee became the Jeep Liberty might be the worst of all time.

Allow me to set the stage. It's the late 1990s, and Jeep has just facelifted the Cherokee, a boxy icon living in a sea of increasingly rounded competitors. The Ford Escape is coming. The Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V are already here. They focus on fuel economy. They use 4-cylinder engines. They have more modern safety equipment and technology. The Cherokee is starting to look... old.

So, in 2002, it happens: Faced with ever-increasing competition, the Cherokee is killed off. Its replacement is the Jeep Liberty -- and the worst redesign in automotive history has just been perpetrated.

The primary reason the Liberty's redesign was so bad is that it didn't really improve any of the Cherokee's flaws. The Cherokee was considered too rough and outdated to compete with newer rivals, but the Liberty's 3.7-liter V6 was still harsh, noisy, slow to respond and tremendously inefficient. More importantly, the Liberty's interior wasn't exactly the modern design Jeep needed, with inexpensive plastics, cheap materials and those famous center-window switches that were ergonomically awful.

Worse, the Liberty actually seemed to worsen some of the Cherokee's features. Styling is the most obvious example: The Liberty took the Cherokee's classic lines, which had been around forever, and made an enormous amount of weird changes, adding curves to the hood, circular headlights, an inexplicably tall rear section and generally unusual proportions.

Also gone was the Cherokee's simple and reliable 4.0-liter 6-cylinder engine, which -- though not a powerhouse -- was tremendously durable. The Liberty also gained a rear-mounted spare tire and a swing-open tailgate that nobody really wanted. And then there was the name: To avoid confusion with the Grand Cherokee, Jeep decided to switch "Cherokee" to "Liberty," ending decades of built-up brand allegiance with the Cherokee name.

Although the Liberty sold fairly well with a different buyer base, Jeep quickly moved to right its wrongs. The Liberty was completely redesigned in 2008, losing the tailgate and bringing back the boxy Cherokee look. Jeep has tried desperately to recapture that look ever since ditching the Cherokee -- first with the Commander, then with the Patriot and now with the Renegade. Then, a few years later, the Liberty was dropped altogether in favor of... well, another Cherokee.

But it was never quite the same, and the market agrees with me: Used Cherokee models, loved for their appearance and their off-road capabilities, now sell for $10,000 in perfect shape. A used first-generation Liberty, no matter how nice, won't even approach half that. Such is life when you're the worst redesign of all time.

MORE FROM OVERSTEER:
The New Aston Martin DB11 Costs $250,000 -- and It's Amazing
The Toyota Sera Had McLaren F1 Doors Before the McLaren F1
Autotrader Find: Hennessey Venom GT For $1.25 Million

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2001 Jeep Cherokee Limited
Used 2001 Jeep Cherokee
$6,750
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2001 Jeep Cherokee 4WD Classic 4-Door
Used 2001 Jeep Cherokee
$10,500
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2001 Jeep Cherokee 4WD Limited 4-Door
Used 2001 Jeep Cherokee
$13,950
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Was the Jeep Liberty the Worst Redesign Ever? - Autotrader